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Friday, May 26, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 5-26-2017

Chicago Eagle, May 26, 1917:

The old idea that a pitcher couldn’t hit is being rapidly dissolved. Ray Caldwell is the main pinch hitter of the Yankees. Walter Johnson is the leading pinch hitter of the Nationals.

But the premier bird of them is Babe Ruth of the Red Sox. Ruth is probably the best hitting pitcher that baseball has ever known. George Sisler started out as a pitcher, and he may have challenged Ruth’s title, but not even the Brownie star is as feared as the big left-hander on the Red Sox staff. He is not only a consistent batsman, but he is as likely to crack one over the fence or up into the stands as any man in baseball.

Meh. Small sample size. There’s no way this Ruth character would keep hitting so well if he got 500 at-bats per year.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: May 26, 2017 at 10:33 AM | 22 comment(s)
  Beats: babe ruth, dugout, history

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 5-25-2017

Washington Times, May 25, 1917:

Ferdinand Schupp, the young Giant pitcher, is likely to take his place among the greatest southpaws of all time, if he continues in his present brilliant form. Schupp is McGraw’s best bet. Starting this year where he left off last season, he has pitched brilliant ball, and now has five straight victories to his credit.

I had been mostly unfamiliar with Ferdie Schupp before he began to appear in the newspapers of 100 years ago, but he was one heck of a pitcher. In 412.1 innings over the 1916 and 1917 seasons, Schupp put up a 1.59 ERA (158 ERA+), threw ten shutouts, and allowed less than a baserunner per inning. Schupp’s 1916 season is one of the great forgotten performances in baseball history: 140.1 innings, 22 runs, 14 earned, and an ERA of 0.90.

Depending on which story you believe, Schupp either blew out his shoulder in a bar fight or in Spring Training 1918 and was never the same.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: May 25, 2017 at 10:50 AM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 5-24-2017

Pittsburgh Press, May 24, 1917:

The “wheatina ball” has made its appearance in the Central league, and batters claim that it is as difficult to hit as the “emery ball,” which has been barred. Pitcher Cummins, of the Ft. Wayne club, is accused of using it by players on opposing teams. They allege that he carries a pocket filled with crushed grains of wheat, and that the sap in the wheat gives his fingers a powerful grip on the ball, causing it to break freakishly as it passes over the rubber.

Ah, the old “pocket full of wheat sap” trick.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: May 24, 2017 at 10:06 AM | 19 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 5-23-2017

A letter to Grantland Rice, via the Harrisburg Telegraph, May 23, 1917:

Dear Sir: It has been suggested that we economize and cut out surplus padding…Why not the one syllable lineup in these days of restriction? I hereby nominate the following:

Catchers—Schang and Schalk.
Pitchers—Ruth, Shore, Schupp, Smith, Coombs, Bush.
First base—Chase.
Second base—Pratt.
Shortstop—Scott.
Third base—Groh.
Outfield—Cobb, Wheat, Burns.

Rice responds with a “three or more syllables team”:

Catchers—Nunamaker, Killifer.
Pitchers—Alexander, Lavender, Southoron, Demaree, Coveleskie.
First base—Konetchy.
Second base—Fitzpatrick.
Shortstop—Maranville.
Third base—Zimmerman.
Outfield—Robertson, Jacobson, Gilhooley.
Which wins?

Pretty clearly the one-syllable team, no? The difference in the outfields is gargantuan, and that’s even without Ruth.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: May 23, 2017 at 10:30 AM | 37 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Monday, May 22, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 5-22-2017

Tacoma Times, May 22, 1917:

Baseball trades are funny propositions.

A week ago the Tacoma team traded Ray Alexander, pitcher, and Toots Bankhead, outfielder, to the Seattle team for Kid McIvor, southpaw pitcher.

Bankhead refused to play for Seattle, and quit organized baseball by starting east. McIvor has a good job with a Seattle shipyard and refuses to come to Tacoma. He plays ball in the Seattle shipbuilding league.

I know it’s because I’m looking at it from the perspective of 2017, but it seems bizarre that Tacoma would be too far from Seattle. I guess playing in the Northwestern League wasn’t lucrative enough for McIvor to live in Kent, buy a car, and commute 20 miles.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: May 22, 2017 at 10:46 AM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Friday, May 19, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 5-19-2017

Chicago Eagle, May 19, 1917:

John B. Foster, secretary of the New York Giants, agrees with President Barrow of the International league that the game of baseball will not suffer because of war. He believes even that baseball might be stimulated.

“War has never hurt baseball in this country,” said Foster. “As a matter of fact, it was the baseball played during the Civil war by the soldiers which resulted in giving the game its great impetus in this country.
...
“Baseball games have been played repeatedly close to the actual fighting line. One game at Verdun went seven innings before it was broken up by the appearance of hostile aeroplanes.

The baseball fan in me likes that the soldiers at Verdun were playing ball. The part of me that’s mildly obsessed with World War I still can’t even fathom what a horrific place and time Verdun 1916 was, baseball or no.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: May 19, 2017 at 01:20 PM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history, world war i

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 5-18-2017

Seattle Star, May 18, 1917:

Seattle school kids will again be admitted to the baseball park free of charge tomorrow to see the Giants and Butte club play. The boys were admitted last Saturday, and behaved so well it was decided to give them another free day.

Thumbs up, old timey Seattle team.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: May 18, 2017 at 09:55 AM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 5-17-2017

Pittsburgh Press, May 17, 1917:

The latest strategy to be used against spitball pitchers has been invented this season by Louis Guisto, Cleveland Indian first baseman now serving his first year in the majors.
...
Bert Gallia of Washington was Guisto’s first victim. Gallia had worked with the moistened ball only part of an inning when his face twisted in anguish as he moistened his fingers to toss up the pill.
...
[Catcher Jack] Henry called Tom Connolly, who was umpiring the game. Connolly sniffed the ball suspiciously.

“I see in this the fine Italian hand of Guisto,” he decided.

Guisto admitted doctoring the ball with garlic.

“I didn’t intend to do it, but garlic is my favorite dish and somehow it got on the ball.

Seems like this sort of thing would have been the best way to stop spitballers. “If you’re going to put foreign substances on the ball, we will too.”

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: May 17, 2017 at 10:58 AM | 22 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, foreign substances, history, spitball

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 5-16-2017

Dugout favorite Tubby Spencer is a changed man!

Pittsburgh Press, May 16, 1917:

Nobody has ever won a decision from “Old King Booze,” according to Spencer.

“I’ve tried his game, and I know,” remarked Spencer, “You may think you are getting away with his delivery, but in the end he will always strike you out.”
...
When [Spencer] left the sanitarium, the physician in charge told him that a drink would kill him. “I wondered whether it would or not, but I waited a week to find out, then I got drunk…Later I went to the coast, but I wouldn’t stay sober, and the first thing I knew I was working in a northern mining camp for a couple of dollars a day.

“One day I sat down and began to take an inventory of myself. I found I was making less money in a year than I could make playing ball in a month…Then I quit drinking, haven’t touched it since, never will.

Tubby fought his way back to the major leagues, spending 1916-1918 with the Tigers and hitting .249/.336/.324 (101 OPS+) as a backup catcher.

I’ve written about Spencer in the past, but the short version is that he was a millionaire’s kid with a drinking problem who wore out his welcome pretty much everywhere. He got banned from the city of Louisville, dove through a plate glass window into a restaurant because he was drunk and hungry, and according to some sources literally became a hobo. Somehow he fought off the demons and played pro baseball at a high level into his 40s. Nice work, Tubby.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: May 16, 2017 at 10:30 AM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history, tubby spencer

Monday, May 15, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 5-15-2017

Tacoma Times, May 15, 1917:

[The St. Louis Browns are] made up of a heterogenous combination of ball players, a few great ones, a few mediocre, some rookies…molded into an organization which is now playing about the fastest and brainiest game in the league.

There’s no secret about it, but the answer is Fielder Jones, former president of the Northwestern league.

Jones is a peculiar chap. He is gloomy by nature and a grouch by cultivation. He is upstage. He is not at all likeable. His ball players don’t like him, but they respect him and they work for him, and that’s all he cares about.

There’s no secret to Jones’ success. He has baseball brains and he gets results. His men play brainy baseball because he furnishes the strategy.

Fielder’s Browns lost 97 games in 1917, allegedly in part because they were losing on purpose. It got to the point where the team owner accused his middle infielders, Del Pratt and Doc Lavan, of throwing a game against the White Sox. Pratt and Lavan responded by suing him for slander.

It was ugly.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: May 15, 2017 at 10:52 AM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Looking Back at the 1992 Expansion Draft (Part 2) - MLB Trade Rumors

Can we have another expansion and get rid of interleague play?

Jim Furtado Posted: May 13, 2017 at 08:44 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: expanded rosters, history

Friday, May 12, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 5-12-2017

Chicago Eagle, May 12, 1917:

Hub Perdue of Gallatin, Ky., a veteran of the majors, now pitching with the Louisville club of the American association, believes he has the regular definition of a “gink.” “A gink,” Hub said, in his Southern drawl, “is a fellah with mud on his boots the yeah ‘round who lives so fah back in the woods that the owls sleep with his chickens, and he uses a ‘possum for a watchdog.”

I don’t use the word “gink” often enough.

Anyway, Hub was a fun player, one of the early on-field jesters. He had a bunch of nicknames: Rub Dub Hub, Hurling Hub, and the Gallatin Squash*. His grandson described him as having a million dollar arm and a two cent head.

* - It’s unclear whether the Gallatin Squash is anything like the Malachi Crunch.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: May 12, 2017 at 10:09 AM | 21 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, fresh ginks, history

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 5-11-2017

Harrisburg Telegraph, May 11, 1917:

“Big Bill” Lange, old-time Cub player, is ready to play ball to fill a vacancy for a man called to the front…he declared to-day in a letter to John K. Tener, president of the National League.

“When the army drafts all your players,” he wrote, “the chances are you will have to get some players that are 45 and over, so if you do, I will volunteer my services, as I will be 46 on June 6.”

“Sure, I’d listen if a major league ballclub called.”

Lange was a terrific player. He had a career .330 batting average, on-based .400, and stole 400 bases in 7 seasons. That’s the good news. The bad news is that he hadn’t played professional baseball since 1899.

As you’d imagine, Lange’s offer was rebuffed.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: May 11, 2017 at 10:47 AM | 21 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history, world war i

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 5-10-2017

Tucumcari News, May 10, 1917:

“I have often wondered,” says Syd. Smith, manager of the Shreveport team, “if the seven other big league clubs were wise to the Cincinnati Reds’ signals last summer?
...
Now that a year has passed, I’ll tell you something: We knew every signal that Herzog and his catchers had during the exhibition games last spring…Those signs could be read by a respectable old lady with spectacles on, they were so open, so easy to discover. And if a little minor league club could catch your signals that way, wouldn’t the major leaguers with their shrewd old generals, do it much more easily?”

Is it really sign stealing if the other team’s signals are obvious? Anyway, the 1916 Reds actually had a better record in a half-season under Buck Herzog than they did under Christy Mathewson, so maybe they just sucked.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: May 10, 2017 at 10:00 AM | 20 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history, sign stealing

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 5-9-2017

Grand Forks Herald, May 9, 1917:

Captain T.L. Huston, part owner of the Yankees and the man who originated the plan for drilling baseball players, probably will be the first man in organized baseball to join the colors. Even before he suggested that the baseball players go in for military training Captain Huston offered his services to the war department. Saturday he received orders to report for duty.

Elsewhere in World War I-related baseball news, fans in Cincinnati are divided on whether there should be baseball in 1918 if the war continues, and MLB owners are lobbying to have a proposed tax on their receipts turned into a tax on fans who buy tickets.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: May 09, 2017 at 12:22 PM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history, world war i

The Bullpen and Bull Durham – Our Game

This simile no doubt has its basis in two earlier usages of the word bullpen — as a prison enclosure, primarily an open-air improvised demarcation; and as a “schoolboys’ ball game, played by two groups, one group outlining the sides of a square enclosure, called the bullpen, within which are the opposing players” (The Oxford English Dictionary). The ball game, popular on the Ohio–Indiana–Kentucky frontier of the 1850s, is first men­tioned in print in Edward Eggleston’s homespun classic The Hoosier Schoolmaster (1871): “He could not throw well enough to make his mark in that famous Western game of bull-pen.” Both senses of the word — the prison enclosure and the ball game — imply enforced occupancy in the bullpen, which reflects the status of the substitute pitcher in the pre-relief era.

Jim Furtado Posted: May 09, 2017 at 08:23 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: history

Monday, May 08, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 5-8-2017

Harrisburg Telegraph, May 8, 1917:

The no-hit game pitched by Bob Groom, of the St. Louis Browns, against the Chicago White Sox [May 6] is the fourth one of the present baseball season.

This makes an early-season record for the number of no-hit games pitched. The other hitless games of the year were as follows

Cicotte of the White Sox against the Browns on April 14.
Mogridge of the Yanks against the Red Sox on April 24.
Toney of Cincinnati against the Cubs on May 2.

Groom’s no-hitter was actually the fifth of the season. Somehow the writer of this article missed that the Browns no-hit the White Sox TWICE IN TWO DAYS. Ernie Koob was the author of a no-no on May 5, 1917.

There was one more no-hitter to come in 1917, and it’s (in my opinion) the most famous no-no of the decade.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: May 08, 2017 at 09:58 AM | 41 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history, no-hitters

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 5-4-2017

Butte Post, May 4, 1917

ANGERED OVER SUGAR, A BASEBALL MANAGER KILLS NEGRO WAITER

Clarence Euell, a negro waiter in [an Indianapolis] hotel, who was shot last night by Dan Shey [sic], manager of the Milwaukee baseball team in the American association, died from the effects of the wound soon after being removed to the hospital.
...
The trouble started over the amount of sugar in a bowl and the baseball man became angered at the manner in which the waiter took more to the table, it is said.

That is seriously messed up. Even more messed up: Shay was acquitted, a verdict that was a massive injustice, if this apparently well-researched article from the Indiana Magazine of History is to be believed.

Wow. I didn’t know about this story. Awful.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: May 04, 2017 at 10:13 AM | 30 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 5-3-2017

Pittsburgh Press, May 3, 1917:

Two one-time members of the Giants are going into the army at the earliest opportunity. Eddie Grant, third baseman for McGraw several seasons ago and also pinch hitter, and Harry McCormick, right fielder and pinch hitter when his fielding days were over, have applied to the necessary authorities to go to Plattsburg.

Eddie Grant was killed by an exploding shell in the Argonne Forest a few weeks before the end of World War I. He was an interesting guy - he earned a law degree at the same time he was the Phillies’ everyday third baseman. It’s said that he sometimes annoyed teammates by refusing to yell “I got it!” when calling for a fly ball. Instead, Grant would yell “I have it!”

He was even an intellectual on the ballfield.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: May 03, 2017 at 10:02 AM | 28 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history, world war i

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 5-2-2017

Harrisburg Telegraph, May 2, 1917:

President Ban Johnson, of the American League, announced here yesterday afternoon that in case the war continued until next spring there would be no attempt to open the 1918 pennant season.

Ban to newsman: Plan will stand if enlisted man’s span near the Gaugin clan doesn’t end.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: May 02, 2017 at 07:28 AM | 23 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history, world war i

Monday, May 01, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 5-1-2017

Pittsburgh Press, May 1, 1917:

Philadelphia expert claims that Connie Mack knows baseball backwards. Is that so?
Well, that’s the way the Athletics play it.

Where do you think the Reds will finish this year?
In July.

Zing!

Also on the same page of the same newspaper, the inmates at Eastern penitentiary have formed a baseball team and are looking to play home games only, Germany Schaefer says it’s not his fault the country named after him is at war with the United States, and Pittsburgh sportswriter Ralph Davis suggests Uncle Sam should confiscate ballpark frankfurters and boarding house hamburg steak.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: May 01, 2017 at 12:30 PM | 22 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Friday, April 28, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 4-28-2017

Pittsburgh Gazette Times, April 28, 1917:

President Tener of the National Baseball League [yesterday] ordered replayed the game of April 17 between Philadelphia and Boston, which was protested by Manager Moran of the Philadelphia team, when Boston was declared the winner.

Umpire Bransfield decided a Philadelphia runner out for walking away from second base under the impression that he was out. President Tener says the decision was erroneous.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I feel like a call like that wouldn’t be overturned these days.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: April 28, 2017 at 11:08 AM | 22 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history, protests

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 4-27-2017

Pittsburgh Gazette Times, April 27, 1917:

Second baseman Charley Herzog of the New York National League team, who fell in a railroad station in New York [two days ago] while trying to kick a piece of chewing gum from his shoe, was still in bed at a hotel [in Philadelphia yesterday] under a physician’s care.
...
so far as the physician can determine he sustained no serious injury.

This is a follow up to yesterday’s link, in which it was reported that Herzog was seriously injured in the fall.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: April 27, 2017 at 10:08 AM | 17 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 4-26-2017

Pittsburgh Gazette Times, April 26, 1917:

Charley Herzog, the star second baseman of the New York National League baseball team fell in the Pennsylvania station in New York [yesterday] while en route with his team to [Philadelphia], and suffered serious injury.

Herzog noticed a piece of chewing gum on the marble floor of the station and kicked at it. His feet slipped from under him and he fell heavily. The player came to Philadelphia and was taken to a hotel where a physician who made an examination said he had injured the lower part of his spine but could not say how seriously.

Well, at least he wasn’t riding a dirtbike. Herzog wound up missing eight games with the spine injury.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: April 26, 2017 at 09:01 AM | 28 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, freak accident, history

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 4-25-2017

Pittsburgh Press, April 25, 1917:

Word from the hospital camp of the Cubs at Chicago informs us that Victor Saier, the crippled first-sacker, is not being coldly abandoned to his fate. He is lying in Henrotin hospital, waiting for his broken leg to get together again. The other day he was visited by the ladies’ auxiliary of the Cubs, consisting of the wives of the players, who called on Victor in a body and smuggled in to him two bottles of refreshing beer and one limburger sandwich. It was the happiest moment of Mr. Saier’s humdrum existence. He hopes that the ladies will call again.

Saier broke his leg in a collision at home plate and missed nearly all of the 1917 season. It was essentially a career-ending injury; he sat out all of 1918 to contribute to the war effort and had a failed comeback attempt in 1919. Saier compiled 13.9 WAR from ages 22-25 and 0.1 WAR afterwards.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: April 25, 2017 at 10:46 AM | 28 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

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